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The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff
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759912,224 (4)43
Title:The Silver Branch
Authors:Rosemary Sutcliff
Other authors:Julia Eccleshare (Introduction)
Info:The Folio Society Ltd, 44 Eagle Street, London
Collections:Your library, Folio Society
Tags:Fiction, Roman army, Roman Britain

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The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff (1957)



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Set a century or so after The Eagle of The Ninth, Rosemary Sutcliff's second novel set in Roman Britain deals with the events surrounding the so-called Emporer of Britain, Carausius. Two cousins, Flavius (a descendant of Marcus Aquila from the first book) and Justin are posted to serve under Carausius as he attempts to build Britain into a strong province, able to withstand attacks by the Saxons and to act as an outpost of civilisation should Roma fall.

Alas Carausius falls prey to a jealous usurper, despite Flavius and Justin's attempt to warn him, and the cousins are despatched to serve on Hadrian's Wall. About to be betrayed they desert and make their way south to Flavius' home near Calleva. Here they help smuggle people out from under the rule of the usurper, Allectus, to Gaul, before events conspire to embroil them in the battle to retake the Province for Rome. Sutcliff's handling of the history is masterful, but it's her storytelling that makes this book a rivetting read. The battle at Calleva towards the end of the book is wonderfully described. Flavius and Justin are well drawn, rich characters who grow into battle hardened men by the book's end.

Although nominally called 'children's fiction' this is actually a great historical novel, as are all of Sutcliff's works, and can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It certainly towers over the likes of Harry Potter and his ilk. Rich in detail, exciting and moving I'd recommend this to anyone. ( )
  David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
Well, the annoying thing about this book was the spoilers contained in the blurb, two on the back cover and another one on the page inside the front cover, giving away two major turning points in the book and effectively telling us something that doesn't happen until the last act, though it is the point the book has been building up to. It doesn't spoil the book by any means but it does nail down the direction of the book for you before you've even picked it up. The first spoiled turning point doesn't occur until about 100 pages in, for God's sake.

Anyway, The Silver branch, sequel to Eagle Of The Ninth, set a generation later, recounts the adventures of Justin and Flavius, young Roman officers posted to Britain where Carausias has proclaimed himself Emperor. Once a river-pilot, he rose to command the Roman fleet and absconded with it to Britain and overthrew the Governor. Now he's a valuable ally of the much-weakened Roman Empire against encroaching barbarians and sea-wolves and plans to strengthen Britain to the point where it can withstand the impending fall of Rome.

Justin and Flavius, good-hearted and good-natured youths, chance on a treacherous meeting while hunting on the coast. Reporting what they witnised, however, leads to an unexpected outcome. What follows is a tale of loyalty and betrayal, a stirring adventure that builds to a fiery climax under the battered and tarnished Eagle of the lost Ninth Legion.

Absolutely marvelous stuff. Sutcliff was the mistress of historical adventures, concealing a sophisticated understanding of the ancient world and its history under a deceptively simple and straightforward style of storytelling. The story twists and turns and runs its own course, and it helps if the sodding copywriter hasn't given any of the various twists and turns away. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
Not quite as much my favorite as Eagle of the Ninth --in the nature of things it is less triumphant, since it is set in later Roman Britain when local usurpers are pulling away from the central Roman Empire. The story is rather sympathetic to Carausius, the capable first usurper, but paints Allectus who killed Caurausius as the villain, and has the young heroes cooperate with the Caesar Constantius (father of Constantine the Great) in overthrowing Allectus on behalf of the Roman central government.. ( )
  antiquary | Jul 8, 2013 |
Not sure why I didn't like this as much, when I was younger. Maybe I'd just wanted more time with Marcus and Esca, and felt a little cheated by Flavius and Justin. Not so much, now: it was like meeting up with an old, old friend, to read this book again. It's a quick read, like the first book, and maybe the reread of this one was even more of a pleasure, because I was truly discovering something new in it this time.

I love the way Rosemary Sutcliff bases her books so strongly on real things -- on an attempt at reconstructing the real history behind something like the Eagle found in Silchester. I wish we knew what the real story is -- but maybe it isn't nearly so interesting as the story Sutcliff has told.

In any case, I have got to love Flavius and Justin, and Cullen, and to feel a little of their same loyalty for Carausius. I'm glad they go together at the end. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
When Justin, a Surgeon in the Eagles of Rome, is sent to Britain, he doesn't know what to expect. He soon finds a kinsman, Flavius, with whom he becomes fast friends. They uncover a possible plot against the Caesar Carausius, and attempting to warn him changes their lives forever.

This is the second of Rosemary Sutcliff's books that I've read, the second chronologically and third published in the Dolphin Ring series. Justin and Flavius are both related to a character from the previous book, and a key symbol from the first book returns as well. Sutcliff uses descriptive prose to carefully include historical details that add to the realistic feel of the book without ever packing in her research in a heavy-handed manner. The plot is impossible to describe; you get the feeling reading that she won't show you all her cards to the end, and then you'll know what it's all about. I do wish that I could have better understood the characters and their motivations, and I became annoyed with how often various occurrences or items in the story were referred to as "the thing." As in The Eagle of the Ninth, I felt that the dialog was a bit stilted. But when the book was in my hands, I still wanted to see where the story was going and kept reading to find out what would happen to Justin and Flavius. ( )
2 vote bell7 | Nov 29, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rosemary Sutcliffprimary authorall editionscalculated
Garrido, HectorCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keeping, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mikolaycak, CharlesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On a blustery autumn day a galley was nosing up the wide loop of a British river that widened into the harbour of Rutupiae.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A young Roman army medical officer, sent to Britain during the period of waning Roman rule, befriends a kinsman with whom he shares an adventure of intrigue, exile, and underground activity with the Lost Ninth Legion.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374466483, Paperback)

More than a century after The Eagle of the Ninth leaves off, two cousins join the Roman side in the fight against a tyrannical British emperor.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:35 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A young Roman army medical officer, sent to Britain during the period of waning Roman rule, befriends a kinsman with whom he shares an adventure of intrigue, exile, and underground activity with the Lost Ninth Legion.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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